This week, the UK is enjoying a mini heatwave. The sudden high temperatures and humidity are a little challenging to work and sleep in, but mostly welcome after the drab and cool start to our summer so far.
Indeed, things are due to settle down again with thunderstorms later today, so it would be churlish to complain about one or two hot sleepless nights and sticky days.
The garden has suddenly filled out, with splashes of bright colour such as the lovely Salvia Kate Glen above. My ‘Amistad’ plants, raised from late autumn cuttings that surprisingly flowered on the kitchen windowsill over Christmas, are coming back into flower now too; another favourite shot of sultry colour.
We’ve continued to work on changes to our garden structure when time has allowed. A new shed has gone up in place of our lean-to pot store, an annex to our original shed, already painted to match the adjacent structure, to take the overspill of tools and machinery that we were struggling to house in one building. Our new fence has also been erected along the side of the vegetable garden, though this is yet to be painted: I have earmarked one of the dark green wood treatments available for this. Some soil has been shifted around this part of the garden to try and level the ground a little, and several bags filled with stones dug out in the process, but the last long border is yet to be marked out along the new fence, and its intended fruity inhabitants remain parked in various holding areas around the garden. We’ve been picking raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants galore, however, and a decent crop of apples and pears are swelling with promise.
Dierama ‘Blackbird’ has more sweeping arcs of flowers than ever before, in the beautiful rich deep dark purple that I love so much. Nearby, my Verbascum chaixii album have put on a strong display too, untouched by the ravages of mullein moth caterpillars that decimated them last year.
Towards the end of the summer, I had dug most of the plants out, appalled by the spindly green literally moth-eaten stems that blighted the border, resigning myself to taking a rest from their charms for a year or two. However, they were undeterred by my efforts and have grown in strongly and healthily this year, along with several seedlings that have popped up in pots around the garden.
I’m relieved that they returned this year in good form, just as I gave up any expectations of enjoying them again!
In one of our new part-raised beds in the kitchen garden, we managed to plant out the ten new dahlias that arrived early this summer (slips from the National Dahlia Collection, sent to King of the Hill as a Father’s Day present from our LO, ahem). Some of them are struggling with the attentions of slugs and snails, but hopefully they shall fight back to flower as beautifully as the one pictured above (I believe this is Akita).
I was lucky to receive vast quantities of bedding plugs for Mother’s Day earlier this year, more than I could ever hope to prick out and grow on, so I did share them liberally with friends and family. Those that I grew on, I then planted out in rows along the edges of our part-raised beds, or jammed in hanging baskets and containers placed around the edge of the house and tucked in the corners of those vegetable beds – which are not all being used at their full potential this year amidst all the turmoil.
We have managed to raise some salads, courgettes and potatoes which we are still enjoying, while leeks, cabbages and winter squash are holding on for later in the year, but our hands are rather full at the moment! Our rambunctious toddler is keeping us on our toes, along with those ambitious plans for change in the garden which are in progress, and trying to keep on top of everything else that life brings. We recently undertook our first camping weekend as a family, which required some serious planning! With so much going on, there is plenty of room for improvement in our crop management next year!
Let’s hope that the summer brings a few lazy days to enjoy too! Once things are a little calmer here, I hope to post a full update on our progress in the garden this year.